ReturnWe Were There - XVI: Bitten & Capped
Outside the world of graffiti, many people think that the two spray paint companies that use the Montana name are the same brand. Within graffiti, almost all writers are aware that they’re two different companies, but most of them - except the best informed - won’t have a clue why this “coincidence” exists. On the internet, you can find some articles on the subject that will give you an idea of the story. But, even if enough time has passed for all of us to get used to the situation, and for the stab wounds to have healed, the time has come for us to tell you exactly why there are two brands of spray paint operating under the name of Montana.
Around the time of Montana’s rapid growth, from 1994 2001, demand exceeded production capacity. The graffiti market was made up of a scene that was already widespread globally and on many other levels. Montana Colors was offering a perfect product, but filling those shelves required time, work, and development.
REAL RECOGNIZES REAL: SUPPORT AND LOYALTY
With the paint flying out of the warehouse, there was no need for advertising. Montana didn't need publicity to get customers, establish distribution links or open new markets. The marketing budget existed to support outside projects, mainly graffiti magazines and events.
This circle of support generated a good bond of trust with the scene, positioning Montana in a position of respect among graffiti writers.
The first distributors in Europe also came from the graffiti scene, either because they were active writers themselves or because they had a business aimed at writers, with a loyal clientele in their area.
The proposal that came from Germany was somewhat different. They started out “small” like everyone else, but immediately decided to invest and set up a company to be the representative of Montana in that country. They did a great job positioning the brand in an area where others were already well positioned, but the quality of the product they sold made this expansion much easier.
DIFFICULTIES OF DEMAND: THE CASE OF GERMANY
Montana had to cover much more territory than its manufacturing could handle, as production was increasing at a slower rate than the expansion the distributors were enjoying. Not only was this happening in Germany, but also in France, the Netherlands and the UK. Tension was on the horizon when it became clear that demand could no longer be met.
Distributors grew thanks to their work, but also thanks to having an exclusive product like Montana. Most of them understood the situation, and with patience and support, the supply problems would be solved. There was an agreement of respect and loyalty between the brand and distributors that facilitated good communication and solutions to problems.
MONEY TALKS: A MULTINATIONAL HELPS TO COPY MONTANA'S NAME
However, the case in Germany was different. One of the partners came from graffiti, and he was an active writer. The other wasn’t, and perhaps he saw the situation from a colder and commercial perspective, where only the only rules applied were motivated by economic ambition. They decided to go behind Montana's back and, using the structure they had built with their products, partnered with another manufacturer - one of the largest in Europe - to meet their demand. At first they used other names, but their customers wanted Montana, so they decided to break that loyalty agreement and looked for a way to be able to copy the brand without repercussions. They had the legal resources to use the Montana name. So the German-made Montana product was born, different to the paint manufactured by Montana Colors.
A CAMPAIGN OF CONFUSION
The legal battles would last for almost a decade. In 2001, the marketing department was created while Jordi Rubio and Kapi waited in an airport departure lounge working on Montana Colors first “international” statement.
They took out a series of ads with one intention: to announce that Montana Colors was alive and kicking, after many years of production and worldwide distribution, and that everything was moving forward.
Some ads were created to counter the propaganda campaigns that the Germans were publishing. Their enormous economic capacity and various acts of commercial sabotage led to a final court date and a reluctant agreement between the two companies.
AN IRONIC ABBREVIATION
Montana Colors, practically bankrupt after paying so many legal fees, was forced to stop using the name MONTANA as a brand on their products. Although they could keep the name as a manufacturer, they were forced to come up with an alternative. So "MTN" became the new brand of Montana Colors Barcelona.
So as we find ourselves in the year 2021, two decades after the original case of biting, with the resulting situation: a German company manufactures and sells spray paint with the Montana name, while those who created the name are forced to use the abbreviation MTN (Montana Colors) to identify their brand.
ShareFebruary 19, 2021